Computer: Storage: Drive
Multiformat USB floppy disk drive   (+9)  [vote for, against]
Decode the disk waveform in software.

A USB floppy drive that can download/upload the analog MFM waveform from/to the disk and encode/decode it in software. With this drive you can read your old Amiga disks on your PC as well as any other format that you can think of. The deluxe version will have three slots, one each for 8", 5.25", and 3.5". You would also be able to write PC disks as well (up to 2.88 MB).
-- Amishman35, Dec 20 2003

I very much like this concept, especially since such a drive could probably do a better job than most existing drives at reading disks which are getting flaky.
-- supercat, Dec 21 2003

You'd have to have some way of auto-detecting the track layout too. Might I humbly submit that the drive takes a high-density two dimensional magnetic map of the entire surface, and then deduces both the track and the data in software?
-- BunsenHoneydew, Jun 11 2006

Doing a full 2d map would probably be overkill for anything except some spiral-track disks recorded for the Apple II series of computers. For just about anything else, it should be sufficient to advance the head in sub-track steps and simply search for the best signals.
-- supercat, Jun 12 2006

Sure, but you want this to be able to read everything, and Apple IIs would have to be some of the more common 5.25" and 3.5" disks out there. And what about 2.8" Quickdisks? Nothing reads those f---kers.

While a full 2D map may indeed be ambitious, the spiral track could probably be followed with a bit of careful head seeking as you describe.

BTW I bun it.
-- BunsenHoneydew, Jun 13 2006

Proper processing of spiral tracks would basically require forming a full 2d map of the disk. The type of head-seeking I described would be much too slow to handle non-circular tracks. Assembling the data for spiral tracks from multiple read passes would probably still be difficult, but I would expect that modern computing power would at least render it feasible.
-- supercat, Jun 14 2006

I'm with Bunsen on this one... do a read, then make it a software problem.
-- zigness, Jun 14 2006

Can some one please give me a model number for this drive as I would like to try and find one, especially the dulux version? PLEASEEEE!!!
-- australia, Oct 25 2007

random, halfbakery